'nonviolence'... the saga continues

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Wed, 08 Dec 1999 03:40:08 -0500

I've been certainly getting some interesting responses to my earlier 
message on this subject and I appreciate the fact that respondents haven't 
been getting defensive on the subject, even those who have criticized my 
point of view.

the main issue for me has always been the apparent expectation that people 
remain passive in the face of sometimes horrific abuse (in this case coming 
form the state). For someone who may have grown up experiencing a similar 
climate (this applies to me, and I'm sure quite a few others who 
participate in events of this kind) it can be incredibly difficult to 
withstand such behavior without wanting to act in a very concrete way to 
stop it happening.

One of the most significant aspects of growing up in an abusive environment 
is the overwhelming sense of personal helplessness that accompanies the 
situation. This is something that movements for change - especially those 
which seek to deliberately enter dangerous situations - need to be giving 
much more consideration to. for example, there is nothing empowering about 
it for me to enter a situation of that kind, where it is expected of me to 
adopt the same kind of physical helplessness that was enforced upon me as a 
child. (Anyone else here who identifies?)

There needs to be some kind of analysis (and ultimately strategies) 
developed which take this into account. To my mind the whole philosophy of 
'nonviolence' (which does include many references - direct and indirect - 
to martyrdom) fails to address the needs of those who have previously 
survived abuse. Heck, even looking at the online photos from Seattle - or 
reading some of the eyewitness accounts - left every nerve in my body 
raw... I can only imagine how it was for those who were actually at the 

In other words, how can we best take on the task of challenging state 
violence in a concrete manner that doesn't require that people be further 
traumatized, and left without recourse to measures that would minimize the 
damage? (Other than simply not participating - which I don't view as being 
an option).

ICQ #53515294
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"Lock 'em up and throw away the key, boys,
the Joneses are not like you or me,
Lock 'em up tight, 'cause if they had the chance they might
show us that we're wrong and that's the one thing we can't be..........."
--Spirit Of The West, from their album 'Save This House'